2 Corinthians 3:5 – 4:4
Some things are just plain ludicrous.
Our reading this morning says, ‘Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.’
Isn’t that ludicrous. Those who don’t believe are victims of a delusion, and they don’t know it. We are all victims of an illusion performed by a master illusionist.
Did you see just now in the video how easily we are deceived and mislead by someone who has practised the art of illusion. We had no idea where the balls were. Even when you know logically what he is doing it is still almost impossible not to be deceived.
2 Corinthians tells us today that Satan is a great illusionist who has blinded many people to truth. Have you ever talked to someone about the obvious truth of God and Jesus, and been baffled because they just didn’t get it? This is why. It isn’t your fault, and getting better at explaining isn’t the answer.
Today I want to talk about an important topic. How do we deal with deception, delusion, illusion in people’s lives?
2 Corinthians says the Good News is hidden behind a veil. A revelation is the removing of a veil. Since they have a veil, a non-believer is not being stubborn. They cannot see the truth. They don’t understand because they cannot understand. The veil needs to be removed to let the light in.
When we watch an illusion being performed we cannot see what is going on. Could any of you see how the balls jumped from one cup to another?
Verse 4 says they are unable to see the light. The image cannot enter in because there is a veil in the way. The camera has the lens cap on. How does this veil get removed?
Someone comes to open their eyes.
Jesus said to Paul in Acts 26 – ‘I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.’
This cannot happen through information. Information is not a solution. It has to happen through revelation. It is not of the mind, but of the heart. The written word has to become the living word. And that is why all of us must not read the Bible for information, but read it for revelation. Read it with prayer, seeking inspiration. We must abide in the word and meditate upon the word, and then like a seed germinating the revelation of the knowledge of God will sprout in our minds.
Thinking we can make our way to heaven by learning the Scriptures is a delusion. Jesus told the Pharisees, who like many theologians today knew the dead word exceedingly well, that they didn’t know God or his son. They had plenty of information, but no revelation.
When we pray for those who do not believe, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to work and birth in them true repentance. We need to pray for the veil to be removed. We need to pray for them to be healed of spiritual blindness so that the light can enter and they can see the image of Jesus. We need to pray in humility and love and give the Holy Spirit time to do his work.
How can Satan actually make us so blind? How is he able to hide from us for so long things that in hindsight are so obvious?
The word the Bible uses for blinded also has a sense of a smokescreen or a great darkness. This Greek word ‘tuphloo’ is closely related to the Greek word ‘tuphoo’, which means pride or arrogance. We are blinded by pride or arrogance, which we have inherited from the time Satan passed it on to mankind in the Garden of Eden.
Pride is the reason most people don’t want to allow Jesus to have complete control of their life. And because so many men are more arrogant than women, it seems harder for a man to follow Jesus than for a woman. We arrogant human beings have chosen to set our own course in life and to follow our own ways, which lead to destruction because we are blind.
When you approach someone about Jesus on a human basis, especially if they feel you are pressuring them, it normally makes things worse. Nagging them to get right with God or trying to win them over with argument never works. Fighting pride with human thinking only makes pride stronger.
Satan has blinded them and he encourages them to be proud. We have to engage in a battle with spiritual weapons. Flick forward to chapter 10 of 2 Corinthians and let’s read verses 3-5 together.
“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
Although we usually think we do this for ourselves, and that is fine, the context actually shows that we are to do this for the lost.
Yet another thing that should have been obvious, but often isn’t, the weapons we use are not human. They are God’s mighty weapons. They can do what is impossible and they can bring a miracle. We take up God’s weapons in prayer for the lost, and we keep on taking them up in prayer for as long as it takes. Weeks; Months; Years.
Sometimes this hold that Satan has over people is called a stronghold, or a fortress.
Jesus came to set the captives free because we were all captive to Satan, and Satan had blinded us all.
The first stronghold is our delusions. We are blinded by our pride, but because of our pride we trust what we understand. We are trapped in an illusion.
For example: You tell a girl that God is love. You say to her that he loves her so much that he sent his son to die for her. But what does she hear behind the veil, blinded by her pride. Her mind is saying, ‘Oh yeah? Well if he is love how come he let me be abused for so many years?’ She is trapped by logic. Held prisoner by her paradigm.
Our response is not to argue with people, it is to pray for them and use the spiritual weapons God has given us to set them free. We are called to intercede for the lost.
Some people believe they are good and don’t need to worry about going to hell. They are blind and they are arrogant. Satan peddled an illusion when he told Eve that she would be like God if she ate the forbidden fruit. But now deluded people think they are like God and don’t need to be saved. Prayer is the only weapon to set them free from their pride so that the veil is removed and they can receive the revelation of Jesus.
A woman prayed for her brother for 12 years, asking God to come into his life and reveal himself to her brother. She didn’t realise there are more biblical ways to pray. Sometimes she got frustrated with him and told him to sort himself out and told him he just needed Jesus.
That only made him angry and more arrogant.
And then she started to use God’s weapons. Two weeks later her brother called out to God and the veil was removed. He received a revelation of Jesus and was changed.
Here are some things we should pray for those who are lost so they can be saved.
- God please lift the veil (revelation and enlightenment);
- Holy Spirit please hover over and protect them;
- Please send godly people into their pathways;
- Cast down anything that rises against the knowledge of God, specifically pride and rebellion;
- Uproot all thought patterns, beliefs, opinions that allow Satan to delude them;
- Prevent Satan from keeping them captive, defeat all wicked thoughts and lies;
- Clothe them in the armour of God.
The unbeliever cannot fight to set himself free. The unbeliever cannot use God’s weapons to overcome the lies of Satan and lift the veil.
It is our job. God has called us to this. We intercede for the lost. We pray for the lost.
We have been given the authority! We can open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. We are called to enforce and make effectual use of the freedom that Christ has already bought and paid for.
The powers of darkness and delusion will resist, but do not fear of them for they are already defeated.